2019 Robert Scott Lecture

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Professor Alex Levine (UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry, Physics & Astronomy, Biomathematics) presented the 12th annual Robert Scott lecture on May 13, 2019.  

Levine completed his Ph.D. in physics at UCLA in 1996 after receiving undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics. Following postdocs at Exxon Research & Engineering, UPENN, and UCSB, he joined the physics department of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst as an assistant professor. In 2005 he returned to UCLA where he is now a professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry, Physics & Astronomy, Biomathematics, and the director of the Center for Biological Physics. His main research interests involve statistical physics, mechanics of disordered elastic systems, and the dynamical phase behavior of interacting neurons. His principal work in biological physics involves the mechanics of the cytoskeleton, hydrodynamics and transport in membranes, and theoretical neuroscience. To learn more about his research, visit the Levine group’s website.

Levine’s talk entitled “The Statistical Mechanics of Strings and Other Things” examined how one can use ideas from polymer physics (as originally explored by Professor Robert Scott) to study a variety of different problems including phase transitions in biopolymer gels, the fluctuations of noisy nonlinear dynamical systems, and even interacting networks of neurons.  

Scott%2CRober Smallt 1Professor Robert Scott (pictured right), for whom the lecture series is named, was a distinguished physical chemist at UCLA. He joined the UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry in 1948. After his retirement in 1993 he continued to be very active in the department. He passed away on May 1, 2016 at age 94.  Read more about Scott’s life and work here.  

Levine joins a group of distinguished scientists who have been Robert L. Scott Lecturers: Benjamin Widom (Cornell), David Chandler (UC Berkeley), Hans Andersen (Stanford), John Weeks (Maryland), Eric Dickinson (Leeds), Andrea Liu (Penn), Stuart Rice (Chicago), Daan Frenkel (Cambridge), Zhen-Gang Wang (Caltech), Alexander (Shura) Grosberg (New York University), and Katja Lindenberg (University of California, San Diego).

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(Left) Before introducing Levine, Professor Charles Knobler spoke about his colleague and friend Professor Robert Scott (pictured on screen) for whom the lecture series is named. (Right) Professor Alex Levine (UCLA) during his lecture.

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Levine gave a lecture entitled “The Statistical Mechanics of Strings and Other Things”.

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Graduate students and faculty at the reception following the lecture: (from left) Arvind Bhattacharya, Andrew Dawson, Arundhati Deshmukh, Maya Segal, Hannah Friedman, Levine, Basu Arkaprabha, Professor William Gelbart.

Photos by Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.